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The Hooded Plover- an inspiring teacher of persistence and positivity.

posted 28 Feb 2017, 21:44 by Emma Rowe   [ updated 1 Mar 2017, 20:37 ]

The Hooded Plover is an adorable, rare little beach-nesting bird endemic to the southern coasts of Australia and affectionately known as the Hoodie.  As urbanisation has spread rapidly in coastal areas in the south-east of Australia many shorebirds have been affected with their populations declining and there has been great concern about this and especially the Hooded Plover.  I am a Hooded Plover volunteer as part of Birdlife Australia's beach nesting bird project and what a privilege this is!  These little birds have taught me so much about persisting, moving forward and never giving up, no matter how many failures you have.  Hoodies are small and they have a lot of predators.  Camouflage is their best protection.  They lay their nests in a small scrape in the sand either on the beach or in the dunes and thus these nests are incredibly vulnerable.  The colour of the eggs blends them into the surroundings and so they are very hard to see which is their only line of defence  The hoodies will get off the nest if a disturbance is near so that the nest is not seen but then the eggs are in the open and unprotected from the temperature and from predators.  As you can imagine there are a lot of nest failures.  When the tiny little chicks hatch they are also very vulnerable as they cannot fly until 35 days of age.  In a breeding season the Hoodie pairs will have many failures their eggs will be taken by predators, stepped on, washed away by high tides, or destroyed by heat or cold and they will loose their chicks to predators or disturbances. 

It is devastating for the volunteers when these losses happen, especially when certain pairs are having failure after failure with no success in a breeding season.  When I have been upset, I have observed and listened to the wisdom of these little legends.  While I am still in the past grieving their loss of eggs or chicks they are on the shore edge, in the moment, foraging and enjoying the day.  They are not falling into the victim mode of how many times their eggs have been taken by foxes, how many times dogs off leads have taken their chicks, how the last high tide washed their recently laid eggs away...no they are breathing in the sea air, flocking with their buddies and foraging!  They just keep being themselves and take whatever each day delivers.  Their biology is programmed to breed many times in a season and so following a nest, egg or chick failure they find a new spot and lay more eggs.  I am in awe of their courage and persistence.  Living in the moment, forgiveness and letting go of the past are precious gifts that we can give ourselves so that we can live in peace, rather than the suffering that many of us endure everyday.  

All of us have the victim archetype and it is very easy to slip into despair.  In this place we think that life happens to us rather than through us.  We see life as unfair and we feel we have no control over the events in our lives.  Shamans know that this is not true.  Our lives are a canvas and we are the artist.  We have incredible power and can change our lives at any time.  This change can start simply with an awareness of our thoughts and behaviours.  When I am starting to get frustrated with life's daily changes and begin to fall into victim mode I think of the Hoodies and their resilience.  Failure is a growth opportunity and a platform to move forward from.  These little legends have brought me so much inspiration and I hope they touch you too.  We can embrace the nature of the Hoodie, pressing on and enjoying the moment with awareness and perspective.